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Tuolumne County Rejects One Of Four Properties Eyed For Homeless

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Sonora, CA – The Tuolumne County Supervisors approved three of four properties it has been looking at to use for homeless housing efforts.

At Tuesday’s meeting, the board unanimously voted in favor of sending notices of intent to purchase two properties in Sonora, the former Satellite Health, Inc. commercial building at 136 Columbia Way, which would house only veterans, and two homes on a property at 720 Snell Street. In addition, the county is buying a significant property in Jamestown, the Miner’s Hotel on Highway 108. An earlier report highlighting each of the four properties and their costs can be viewed here.

Another Sonora property at 165 S. Shepherd Street, a six-unit apartment building, was taken off the list after hearing from tenants. One woman agreed that the homeless are an issue in this town and the issue needs to be addressed. Teary-eyed and with her voice cracking, she implored, “Buying a fully occupied apartment complex full of locals who are contributing members of society and displacing them from their homes is wrong.”

District 2 Supervisor Ryan Campbell had this reaction: “Hearing you speak, I was just imagining how I would feel if I was in the same situation. That’s a no for me if we’re talking about displacing people that are currently residing in an apartment complex.”

Three other supervisors agreed, making that property a non-starter. In all, about 20 people, including Sonora City Council members, Mayor Mark Plummer, Mayor Pro-tem Ann Segerstrom, Councilman Matt Hawkins, and Police Chief Turu VanderWiel, had concerns about the county’s plan. Other concerns voiced regarded taxpayer costs, safety, property values, and mental health issues. Board Chair Kathleen Haff worried about the misconception she feels county residents have regarding the homeless, stating, “A lot of them are senior citizens; some of them are Vets. They are not all strung-out people who are nuts and will invade your home. Secondly, all of these homes are transitional homes; these are people that are proven, that have worked a program, and are ready for the next step.”

District 3 Supervisor Anaiah Kirk stressed that he is not interested in purchasing additional homes for homeless efforts after these acquisitions.

The board is scheduled to take up the final purchase agreements for the three properties at its December 19th meeting. The funding will come from state grants.